Prevention of HPV has been relegated to the girl’s corner like most aspects of sexual health, but new findings are suggesting that parents should make sure that their little boys are getting vaccinated with Gardasil too. While the direct health benefits of Gardasil to boys are considered “modest” by The New York Times, a big incentive for parents should be how the vaccine will protect their kid’s sexual partners down the line.
The Times reports that with pediatricians not urging parents of boys to get the vaccination and minimal health incentives, parents with sons aren’t really inclined in the same way that those of daughters are. Medical organizations aren’t strongly endorsing the vaccine for boys either and not all health plans cover Gardasil for them specifically because of gender. But emerging research has linked HPV to anal cancer, penile cancer, and cancers of the back of the throat and tonsils. And even though HPV doesn’t, to the best of our present knowledge, impact the number of women as it does men, there is also the lingering responsibility of limiting exposure through sexual activity. Having your son vaccinated will not only protect him from the increasing worries about cancers, but also protect any of his future sex partners from contracting the disease.
Jane Kim, an assistant professor at Harvard School of Public Health, told the paper that “You do a public service by getting your child vaccinated.”
Sexual health is not strictly a girls’ or women’s issue, nor should it be. Parents owe it to their sons to make sure that they will take to the sexual activity pool having taken all necessary safe sex precautions.